Poetry: Two Poems by C. Wade Bentley

These two poems brim with a voice of grandfatherly confidence. There’s humor, there’s wisdom, there’s humility. Wade C. Bentley, an emerging poet later in his life, reminds us that poetry is more than trauma or broken hearts or heroic deeds—poetry is grandchildren, is walking the dog, is organizing the spice rack at home alone.


Lifting Weights

Over the past year or so, I have lost the weight
of a grandchild or a microwave, five bowling
balls or housecats, or a large bag of sugar.
The sugar is perhaps most apt, given that
most of the extra weight I had been carrying
around all those years could be distilled
into a (large) powdered pile of sugar and a soupçon
(or so) of rendered bacon fat. I can see your eyes

going glassy already, so let me assure you
this will not be a poetic memoir about my
struggle—some might call it heroic—to pull
myself back from the brink, wrestle that obese
monkey from my back. Nor will it be my thirty-
point plan which I will then sanctimoniously
advise you to follow if you know what’s good
for you, no sestina version of Sweatin’ to the Oldies.

People like hearing about how you lost weight
the same way they want to hear how your dreams
have become more vivid since menopause. No,
this feels like part of a more general plan—
though entirely unplanned—to pare down, un-
load, hold an estate sale before the fact, reduce
my life to its lowest common denominator.

I’m letting the books go, the CDs, taking boxes
of XXLs to Goodwill, eBaying the Pez dispenser
collection; everything must go. I’m saying no,
I’m scrivening, “I would prefer not to” on RSVPs,
I’m truant, AWOL, gone missing. This is not,
though, as far as I know, that pre-demise sloughing-
off, putting post-it notes on my cherry wood
highboy so the relations won’t squabble over it.

This is me sitting in the woods beneath
a Douglas Fir, next to a stream so clear I can see
trout leaning into the current, on the other side
of which a doe comes leading her young fawn
into a clearing, sees the stream and the tree, and,
seeing me, sees nothing that shouldn’t be there.


Come-Bye

I feel compelled, as I leave the coffee shop,
to push chairs in to their tables and straighten
newspapers into neat stacks. Easy enough.
The leaves in the stand of oak trees
in my backyard are raked into a bag almost
as soon as they fall, leaving only clean earth

between trunks. As far as compulsions go,
it seems harmless enough. At night, I sit
on the edge of my bed and tick through each
of my children and grandchildren, holding them
one at a time in my thoughts, thoroughly
scanning each one, combing through their lives

the way I comb though the long hair along
the forearms of my Australian Shepherd
after our walks, looking for stickseed and burs
that need cutting out. The dog puts his nose
through the fences surrounding the pastures
and animal pens we pass as we walk,

and I can see it twitch, see his eyes dart back
and forth as he accounts for each animal,
his legs quivering as the pull of instinct tells him
those sheep should be formed up, those free-
range chickens enjoy entirely too much
freedom, and he looks up at me as if to say,

can’t you see it? just give the order and I’ll
have things ship-shape in no time. And of course
I can see it, understand his need to herd, but these
are not ours, I tell him, and we move on,
ignoring the free-range world flickering
on the periphery, unfollowing Facebook friends,

unsubscribing from newspapers, walking
quickly around human humps and their middens
downtown, working, instead, to organize
the spice rack alphabetically, moving at a good clip
through cast and bring and cross-drive, until cardamom
sheds safely in its place next to cinnamon.


C. Wade Bentley

C. Wade Bentley teaches and writes in Salt Lake City. His poems have been published or are forthcoming in journals such as Cimarron Review, Best New Poets, Rattle, Chicago Quarterly Review, Pembroke Magazine, and Poetry Northwest. A full-length collection of his poems, What Is Mine, was published by Aldrich Press in January of 2015. You may visit wadebentley.weebly.com for complete information about his publications and awards.

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